[ kuhn-tin-yoo-uhl ]
See synonyms for continual on
  1. of regular or frequent recurrence; often repeated; very frequent: continual bus departures.

  2. happening without interruption or cessation; continuous in time.

Origin of continual

First recorded in 1300–50; from Medieval Latin continuālis, equivalent to Latin continu(us) “uninterrupted” + -ālis adjective suffix; replacing Middle English continuel, from Middle French, from Latin, as above; see continuous, -al1

confusables note For continual

Although usage guides generally advise that continual may be used only to mean “intermittent” and continuous only to mean “uninterrupted,” the words are used interchangeably in all kinds of speech and writing with no distinction in meaning: The president's life is under continual (or continuous ) scrutiny. Continuous (or continual ) bursts of laughter punctuated her testimony. The adverbs continually and continuously are also used interchangeably. To make a clear distinction between what occurs at short intervals and what proceeds without interruption, writers sometimes use the contrasting terms intermittent ( intermittent losses of power during the storm ) and uninterrupted ( uninterrupted reception during the storm ) or similar expressions. Continuous is not interchangeable with continual in the sense of spatial relationship: a continuous (not continual ) series of passages.

Other words for continual

Other words from continual

  • con·tin·u·al·i·ty, con·tin·u·al·ness, noun
  • qua·si-con·tin·u·al, adjective
  • qua·si-con·tin·u·al·ly, adverb
  • un·con·tin·u·al, adjective
  • un·con·tin·u·al·ly, adverb

Words that may be confused with continual

  • continual , continuous (see confusables note at the current entry)

Words Nearby continual Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use continual in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for continual


/ (kənˈtɪnjʊəl) /

  1. recurring frequently, esp at regular intervals

  2. occurring without interruption; continuous in time

Origin of continual

C14: from Old French continuel, from Latin continuus uninterrupted, from continēre to hold together, contain


Derived forms of continual

  • continuality or continualness, noun
  • continually, adverb

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012